Member of Abandoned Indian Crew in Sri Lanka Tragically Dies

India gate lit up at night
Updated Published

The remaining six crew onboard the Indian flagged vessel MV Sai Arambh have been reportedly abandoned with limited support since October 2019 in the Colombo Port, in a total of more than 32 months, said HRAS.

The cook drowned in March 2022. He fell into the sea when he attempted to negotiate the ship’s badly damaged gangway to go ashore.

The situation has been reported in the Indian press, which includes a video showing the deteriorating vessel in the Colombo Port. The vessel’s owner firmly opposes the facts set down by the crew.

The Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) was alerted by the Justice Upheld, a UK-based NGO about the general cargo vessel that is not in good condition to sail with running repairs for below waterline leaks being undertaken, no PPE, holes in deck plates, exterior stairwells and gangways in appalling condition, poor living, cooking, and sanitary conditions.

With a warrant issued by the Sri Lankan High Court in January 2020, the crew arrested the vessel with claimed damages for outstanding wages of then R 7,182, 766.90 (USD$ 90,587.98) and which continue to accumulate.

In April 2021, nine crew were repatriated who took loans to India. The Master and five crew are waiting on legal assistance and owed outstanding wages since December 2019.

“The authorities are very aware of our case and the problems we have, but the ship is 28 years old and is in very bad condition with bad living conditions. Floor plates are so corroded that there are holes through the deck, and we have holes in the galley which leak, the skylight to the engine room is leaking water, and the hold catches are heavily corroded,” the remaining crew said to HRAS. 

“The crew arrested the vessel, and we have repeatedly requested that they leave the vessel so it can be sold. The crew have neglected the ship, they do not clean their accommodation, it is filthy. When I was in Colombo in May (2022), I personally supplied provisions myself and went to the ship. I have the receipts which I have submitted to the court. Repairs have been carried out on the ship’s hull to all leaks below the waterline with temporary repairs, and all leaks have been found to be holding,” said co-owner Captain Prafula Ranjan.

“I don’t accept any of the allegations. The conditions onboard this 28-year-old ship are very bad. We look after the accommodation. No crew have beaten anybody. He is totally speaking lies,” said the Master, refuting the owner’s position.